Leo, the owner of the wildly popular ZenHabits blog, has written one of those classics that apply to both our business and personal lives. In brief, The Power of Less is a treatise on the small steps (see my blog post on the Kaizen way) we can take to simplify our lives and in the doing find far more joy and success than all of our manic behavior could produce.
The book begins with Leo's own story of being an debt, overweight, smoking, workaholic who rarely saw his family. His life was chaotic and he never had time for the things and people he loves. (Sound familiar?) Then, he made the choice to simplify his life in small continuous ways; first he quit smoking by focusing all of his energy on that one goal.
Then, he attacked other goals, one at a time, like becoming a runner, eating healthier, starting a successful blog, and getting out of debt.
One by one the goals were met (and exceeded). Leo has run two marathons, has doubled his income, became a vegetarian, decluttered his home, lost 45 pounds, and spends quality time with his family. Today, Leo's blog is one of the top 50 blogs in the world, with more than two million readers a month. If that doesn't make you want to adopt his principles, nothing will!Read more ›
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I love the Zen Habits blog and really connect with Leo's simple message of cutting the clutter and living a simpler life in order to do and achieve the things that are of real value, so I got a lot out of this book's simple reminders and encouragement.
I didn't like it in audio format, though, which I explain in my video review, so while the content deserves five stars, the robotic, slick narrator and the way the format of the book worked with being read aloud brought the star rating down.
One other minor quibble was that Leo mentioned "previous posts" and "later posts" in his book a lot. Some of the content was obviously written for a blog format and it wasn't edited vigorously enough to catch these mistakes.
Other than that, though, the content is exactly what I expected from reading Leo's blog and I enjoyed the book a lot. It's a good kick in the rear if you need help getting fired up to achieve your goals through simplicity.
First, let me say this: The content in this book is worth 5 stars. Leo is the absolute best at making anyone realize what is important in the world, and act on it. If you've had it with other self-empowerment books, the kind that use phrases like "thrive off of synergy" and "discover the true version of yourself" and "unlock the millionaire within you" and other absurdities that clog the self-improvement industry of books, then The Power of Less will be an absolute relief. The general mantra is easy to swallow and understand: focus your efforts on one thing and you will be more effective.
The book is simple and direct with little fluff. It's aimed at everyone, not just the big-time business managers and the yuppie type. As a student and writer, I find that 7 Habits and Getting Things Done and the like, while they're great, just don't feel like they're aimed at me. The Power of Less is, though. And it's undiluted greatness. There's no New Age-y stuff in here, nothing really abstract. Just solid, practical approaches to the problems that everyone faces.
Here's the one catch, though: at least 85-90% of the content in this book is fundamentally equivalent to what's been posted on his blog, Zen Habits (zenhabits dot net). Leo's techniques rely on simplicity so much that there are really only so many ways you can spin it.
There are a lot of reasons to buy this book: it goes a little bit deeper in its explanations, it is a great summary and introduction to everything on Leo's site, it supports Leo after all of the hard work he has put in to helping your average Joe like me make his life and his world a little bit better, and it introduces his ideas in a logical order.Read more ›
First, let me say that the BIG ideas in this book - about single-tasking, focusing on completion, not taking on too many projects at once - are simple yet brilliant and very helpful. However, when Babauta gets down to specifics and his "system," things fall apart a bit. Ironically, this philosophy, based on simplicity, gets a bit convoluted, complicated, and at times doesn't seem completely thought-through. For example, the book prescribes that we focus on one habit at a time, focus on one goal at a time, focus on 3 projects a time, and work on only 3 tasks per day. That's a lot of confusion and multi-focus for a single-tasking book. Also, his strategies seem to fit better for someone, like him, who is self-employed and can work how and when he likes. As a teacher, I cannot focus on three projects at any one time, as I have 35 kids on my caseload with a multitude of needs. Not everything fits neatly into "projects" when you are not a free-lance writer. So, all in all, good ideals, not so great strategies.